Become an RCO
What is a Registered Community Organization (RCO)?
Pittsburgh is a city of neighborhoods. Strong community groups help residents and businesses obtain and share information and support cooperative networks and efforts to improve the quality of life in these neighborhoods. Having an organized community group empowers a neighborhood to be represented more effectively with local government.
Community organizations often tackle a great variety of issues such as social services and community cleanups. Community organizations that are concerned with the development of the community can become a Registered Community Organization (RCO) in order to have a formal role in the current development projects as well as neighborhood planning processes.
Why does Pittsburgh have RCOs?
The RCO framework was written into the Administrative Code to provide a standard and predictable method for community input on development activities and planning processes throughout the city. This framework establishes the criteria for becoming an RCO and delineates the relationships between RCOs and the Department of City Planning. Additionally, the code outlines a specific set of responsibilities and procedures to which RCOs, applicants and the City must adhere prior to public hearings. Note: individual community members and/or organizations are entitled to testify and/or to send letters to the Boards and Commissions regardless of RCO status.
What are the benefits of becoming an RCO?
The benefits of becoming an RCO include:
- Notification of public hearings (for projects requiring a public hearing and meeting a development threshold)
- Guaranteed meeting with developer/applicant prior to a public hearing (for projects requiring a public hearing and meeting a development threshold)
- Neighborhood Plans developed with RCO(s) may be adopted by the Planning Commission
- Placement on official maps, brochures, and directories
What are the responsibilities of RCOs?
- Coordinate with applicants and their DCP neighborhood planner to schedule the time, date, and location for Development Activities Meetings
- Using methods from their communication strategy, the RCO will notify residents, property owners, business owners, and other stakeholders of the time, date, and location of Development Activities Meetings at least 10 days prior to the meeting. This notice should include the project location and purpose of the proposal along with the date, time, and location.
- Post meeting agendas, decisions, and minutes, especially those related to Development Activities Meetings, on the organization website.
- Foster open and respectful communication with other neighborhood organizations, RCOs, its members, residents, property owners, and representatives of city departments on plans, proposals, and activities affecting the interests of the community.
- Renew registration with the Department of City Planning on a biennial basis.
What are the criteria for becoming an RCO?
The requirements to become an RCO include:
- 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in good standing with the state of Pennsylvania, or affiliation with a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation in good standing with the state of Pennsylvania via a Memorandum of Understanding
- Adopted bylaws
- Adopted Conflict of Interest Policy
- Adopted statement of purpose or mission
- An identified geographic boundary, identified either by approved bylaws or passed by another action of the organization
- Transparent Board selection process and defined terms
- A written communication strategy which includes the following provisions:
- The methods the community organizations use to reach out to the community
- The reasons they use those methods, including data to support these reasons
- Strategy to inform residents and businesses about the community organization's communication strategy and where the community can access this information
- Strategy to provide outreach to the community of upcoming meetings
- Regular meetings, not less than twice per calendar year, which are open to all members of the public in an ADA-accessible space
- Adopted Policy Against Discrimination
- A website which provides the following information:
- Advance notification of meetings
- Meeting agendas, decisions and minutes
- A signed letter from the Member(s) of Council whose Council District(s) contain the designated geographical area(s)
Each RCO must renew their registration with the Department of City Planning every two years during the month of December by providing updated documents if the information has changed.
RCO registration is free and applications will be accepted throughout the year. Please download an application HERE. The application and documentation can be submitted in two ways:
- Via email to Stephanie Joy Everett at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Via mail to Stephanie Joy Everett, Department of City Planning, 200 Ross St., 4th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.
- 501(c)3 Status example
- Communication Strategy
- Conflict of Interest
- Fiscal Sponsorship Agreement example
- Mission Statement development process
- Website Planning
If you have any questions, please contact Stephanie Joy Everett at 412-255-2256 or email email@example.com